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Wrestling teams face tough test

Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune Madera South’s 184-pounder Angel Reyes gets his Hoover opponent in postion for near fall points during a 10-4 victory in the consolation quarterfinals. Although he lost in the semifinals, Reyes won by pin in the fifth place match.


The annual Chukchansi Invitational provided some of the best wrestling early in the season at Madera South High School and Madera teams were up to the task.

Although neither Madera South, Madera or Liberty had any wrestlers place higher than fifth, all three used the tournament as an important building block to the upcoming season.

“This might be as good of a tournament they have had here,” Madera head coach Joe Romine said. “There are some high-level kids here.”

Romine’s Coyotes placed 16th overall and 222 pounder Hulise Santiago was the highest placer, winning the fifth place match. Heavyweight John Cook began his junior year with a seventh place finish.

“This is an eye-opener and an adjustment-maker,” Romine said. “We want the kids come to their own conclusion rather than listening to us and the broken record. It means more when they were the ones who experienced these things.”

Santiago won his first three matches of the tournament, including a second period pin in the semifinals against Liberty’s Angel Lugo. He lost in the semifinals and lost in the consolation semifinals to send him into the fifth place match. He won by injury forfeit.

Cook won two matches on Friday, but lost in the quarterfinals by pin. He came back with a pin in the consolation quarterfinals, but lost by a 2-1 decision in the consolation quarterfinals. He came back to pin his opponent in the second period in the seventh place match.

First year Madera South head coach Ryan Philp saw his young Stallions earn an 18th place finish, 13.5 points behind Madera.

“We are wrestling tough,” Philp said. “We have two or three placers. We have a young team. They are fighting very hard. The seniors that we have are in really tough weight classes. We have good lightweights, but a lot of teams have great lightweights.”

Andrew Reyes placed sixth at 184 pounds while Abel Cardenas was seventh at 172 pounds.

Reyes won his first two matches, but lost in the quarterfinals. He recorded a pin in the consolation quarterfinals and advanced to the semifinals with a 10-4 decision, but lost by pin. He was pinned in the fifth place match.

Sophomore Cardenas had a long ride to place at 172 pounds. He won his first match by pinfall, but was pinned in the quarterfinals. He then won three straight matches in the consolation round, but fell in the quarterfinals by pinfall. He won the seventh place match by a 3-1 decision.

“This time is very important to get quality mat time,” Philp said. “To gain confidence right now is key. We wrestled a lot of kids in the junior varsity. They got the team bonding experience of winning 10 dual matches in two weeks. Everyone is excited and pumped together. It’s a team confidence-building thing. We wrestled twice as many Thursday, on JV, than we did this weekend.”

Meanwhile Liberty earned its best finish at the Chukchansi in 25th place, besting teams from Bullard-Fresno and Centennial-Bakersfield.

“Each individual wrestler, we have our own goal-setting meetings,” Liberty head coach jay Pumarejo said. “We go into my office and the kids write down their goals for the weekend. We make a copy of it and we give them the copy and tape it to their mirror at home so they see their goals everyday. We talk about what their goals are and how to accomplish them. Some of the individuals accomplished their goals. However, our expectations are pretty high for our kids. The result of it is that this is the best Liberty has done at the Chukchansi Invitational.”

Pumarejo had three wrestlers place in the top eight. Heavyweight Francisco Rojas led the team in sixth place. Angel Lugo placed seventh at 222 pounds and sophomore Sam Rauschenberg had a nice Saturday run to place eighth at 184 pounds.

Rauschenberg had a long road to earn a place after losing his first match Friday to Reyes. He won four straight matches in the consolation round before losing in the consolation quarterfinals by decision. He lost by pin in the seventh place match.

Lugo won his first two matches by pinfall before losing by pin to Santiago. Pumarejo faced a difficult decision in the consolation round with Lugo going against teammate Portnoff before the consolation medal rounds. It was decided that Lugo would advance.

He lost a last second match against a Central wrestler. Lugo had a late takedown to tie the match, but lost by an escape as time ran out. Controversy surrounded the match as the Central wrestler was called for stalling three times in the third period, but a second period stalling call didn’t carry over and Lugo wasn’t given the extra point, which would have won the match.

Lugo bounced back and won by pinfall in the seventh place match.

Rojas won his first three matches heading into the semifinals, two by pinfall. He lost his consolation semifinal match by decision, but bounced back to win by pin in the fifth place match.

Out of 16 wrestlers for Madera South, five were freshmen.

“This was an amazing experience for our kids,” Philp said. “Our junior varsity kids beat a team from Pitman that hasn’t lost in five years. We looked like a varsity team. I was wanting to see how the team would step up and react to the older kids. They impressed me by how they wrestled. They were not intimidated at all. We have a really good group of young kids. I’m really proud of them. I can’t believe how tough our younger kids were. In the last two weeks, we’ve beaten Clovis North and Central. We have been beating teams.”

This match was a matter of getting quality mat time for Madera with 13 wrestlers taking the mat Friday and Saturday.

“The level of competition at this tournament is good,” Romine said. “There’s a lot of time you hit moves a little bit against an average guy, it would work. You have to hit it very well against a good guy. They will go back and re-evaluate on what they’ve been doing and make adjustments moving forward. We’re about half and half with young and old. We had a couple of freshman wrestle Friday. We have some guys in the room and this is their first taste of varsity.”

All three teams will next get ready for the BIG Duals Championship at Ranchos Middle School, hosted by Pumarejo’s Hawks.

“Next weekend is going to be big fun for us,” he said. “Everyone will be at the right weight. We have a team from Santa Maria coming in. Next weekend will be a nice weekend for us to have a nice peek early in the season.”


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